Sweet Valley High: Secrets Chapter 4
Elizabeth, Todd, Enid, and Ronnie are at the movies for a double date (the book points out that “the two couples often double-dated”, even though Elizabeth and Todd have only been dating since the end of the last book and who knows how long ago that was). Todd has observed that something is up:
“What is it with Ronnie and Enid?” Todd asked. “Are they having some kind of a fight?”
Uh oh! Looks like Jessica’s incredibly convoluted plot to get Bruce to fall in love with her by breaking up a completely unrelated couple somehow is underway! How bad is it?
“Did you notice he didn’t hold her hand during the movie? […] Seemed kind of funny”
Todd and Elizabeth keep things in perspective:
“It’s crazy,” Todd said, shaking his head. “If you love someone, you should trust him. Or her. Seems pretty dumb to get all worked up over nothing when you could be having a good time.”
“Like us, you mean?” Elizabeth leaned close and brushed the side of his neck with her lips.
Again, this is the couple that has only been dating since the end of the last book, after Todd stopped dating Elizabeth’s twin sister Jessica. Also, they’re 16.
Elizabeth goes to the bathroom to see if Enid’s ok, but finds her crying about how Ronnie’s “been acting like a different person all night” and already worrying about the worst possible outcomes:
“You really should talk to him, Enid. It might be something he’s afraid to tell you.”
“Yeah, like he wants to break up, only he’s afraid I won’t give him back his frat pin.”
To be fair, I’m making fun of these characters quite a bit, and primarily for being fairly dated. But even with that, Elizabeth has a healthier perspective on relationships than the characters in basically of the books we’ve read for this blog that have been published this decade:
“To Ronnie, loving someone means absolute faithfulness,” Enid said. “If he suspected for one second that I’d been writing to George, it would be the end. He’d never forgive me.”
Anyone that inflexible didn’t deserve someone as nice as Enid, Elizabeth thought.
After the date, Ronnie makes a detour while driving Enid home…
Ronnie found a place up on Miller’s Point, a favorite Sweet Valley parking spot that overlooked the town. Already there were four or five other cars parked, and judging from the steaminess of their windows, they’d been there awhile.
Ronnie didn’t waste any time.
But, uh, if Ronnie’s trying to end things with Enid… ugh, fuck it. I have a SpongeBob gif for this too.
Ok. Back to discussing character motivation. We’re in the middle of a scene where Ronnie is simultaneously trying to break up with Enid and make out with her more aggressively than usual. Both things.
Enid felt as if her heart were suspended in midair. “What about the dance?”
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it. You see, I might have to work for my dad that night. He’s going out of town, and he really needs someone to look after the store.”
Ronnie’s father […] could have called upon any one of half a dozen people to replace him. Ronnie hadn’t even bothered to come up with a halfway decent excuse for dumping her. […] Enid felt herself begin to weaken as Ronnie’s arms tightened around her again, his lips moving against hers with a hard, unrelenting pressure.
Which is apparently a pretty appropriate time to suddenly discuss the latest rumors about a student-teacher affair.
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard. It’s all over school. They’re having an affair.” […]
“Ms. Dalton wouldn’t do a thing like that!”
“How do you know?” Ronnie challenged. “People do crummy things all the time.”
“I just can’t believe she would—”
“Be interested in Ken?” he supplied, sneering. “I would. A lot of people are two-faced, especially when it comes to love.”
If you think that Ronnie’s mental gymnastics are absurd, just keep in mind that his convoluted paranoia is somehow part of Jessica’s convoluted plan to get a boy to like her. Jessica has pieced together a Rube Goldberg machine of sociopathic manipulation. Or just figured out fairly early how predictable teenage male paranoia is. One or the other.
Speaking of the latter, Ronnie’s “I can’t go to the dance with you but I want to make out with you” behavior suddenly gets less contradictory and more, say, representative of predictable male fragility.
He pulled her against him. […] Finally Enid managed to wrench free of his grasp. […]
“What’s the matter?” Ronnie growled. “I don’t rate up there with old Georgie-boy? You’re not going to give me any of the same stuff you’re giving him?”
Enid gasps, asking how he knows about George, but Ronnie sidesteps it with a “what difference does it make?” and the fight begins in earnest! And in “what time period even is this”-ness.
“You’ve been lying to me all along. Acting like Miss Goody Two-Shoes when the truth is you were hot and heavy with George and who knows who else.”
Incidentally, the prose continues to be excellent.
It was as if he’d turned from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde.
Enid puts her foot down, realizing that she doesn’t need Ronnie’s paranoid, unreasonable, alpha male bullshit in her life. Much like when this happened in
Fifty Shades Crossfire any Maddox brothers novel no book we’ve read before.
Finally he’d gone too far. Giving a cry of anger, Enid yanked her wrists from his grasp. “OK, if that’s what you want to think! It’s obvious you don’t even care what my side is!”
It might seem like a win-win situation, even if Enid is technically “sad” about losing the boy she “loves”. But Enid realizes there’s a pretty serious implication here.
One thought scuttered through her mind like a rat in a maze, doubling the blow of betrayal she felt: The letters. Liz must have told him about the letters.
Tune in next week to see how Enid fighting with Elizabeth somehow also factors into Jessica’s plan to go to the dance with Bruce. And how people remembering that Elizabeth has a manipulative sociopath twin sister never does.